What I love about having teenagers…..what I miss about not having little kids anymore…

How we spend our days

I’m keen to process this new stage of parenting that I am in – where all my children are now teenagers… to relish the stage that I am in…to relish the little ordinary moments that happen on a daily basis that it is easy to take for granted!

I’m also keen to share the positives of having teenagers for all those parents who are feeling daunted by the process and to share the great bits about having young kids that I miss so if you are in that stage of parenting you can relish it too!

What I love about having teenagers…..

  • They sleep-in! This is glorious on weekends and in school holidays – to wake up when you want to wake up and to even have the house to yourself for an hour or two!!
  • Their sense of humour, the laughs…
  • The interesting new music…feeling up with the times again when I know who that singer is!
  • The movies and tv shows you can enjoy together…
  • Their exuberance, energy and pursuit of their passion/s – it’s exciting to be around
  • The way teens find their place in the world by questioning every belief you have ever had – I find this really difficult/ irksome but it has certainly made sure that I analyse all my beliefs and the evidence I hold for it – at times I have been persuaded to even change my beliefs…a little!
  • Hearing your own words come back at you (‘that’s a bit judgemental Mum’) and being frustrated yet also in awe that your years of teaching has worked!!!
  • As they get busier with their own lives you have permission to get busier with yours – with pursuing your passions & interests…you have more time!
  • They can cook!
  • The spontaneous dancing just because the music is good…
  • The creative things you have to think of to make doing something with you sound exciting!!
  • Being pushed out of your comfort zone to do something scary adn risky with them!
  • Their confidence in telling you exactly how they feel about you – and feeling hurt yet also feeling in awe that they can express their emotions like you never could!
  • They can get themselves to school & back…you have a little more freedom!
  • It’s actually quite fun embarrassing your teenager – like dancing down the shooping aisle and watching your teenager cringe with embarrassment!!
  • They are very helpful with all technology!!!
  • Somehow if you ignore their bedrooms the house stays cleaner – less toys!

Of course it’s not all rosy – I think we have had arguments in our house about sleeping in on a school morning, inappropriate humour, clash of tastes in music and movies, too much energy, constant debates, addiction to screens, feeling criticised as a parent, as well as a meal of two minute noodles not classifying as a meal, not to mention our food bill…..but it is great to reflect on how all of these points above have brought in immense positives into our house too!

What I miss about not having little kids anymore…

  • The warm welcome as you walk in the door – smiles, hugs, kisses
  • The willingness to go on an ‘adventure’ – you can sell almost any outing as an adventure!!
  • The soaking up your beliefs, your way of doing things without too much questioning…yet!
  • The simple fun that can be had in simple everyday activities…no need to try too hard to get a laugh!
  • The going to bed early (if you are lucky!) – and time in the evenings to chill without kids…
  • The ‘I love you Mum’….the tenderhearted affection going both ways…
  • Hide and seek, chasey and sandcastles
  • The being able to share a bathroom – no locked doors or privacy being number 1 concern!
  • Your kids are your biggest fans!
  • Cuddles and reading stories and reconnection before bed
  • You can keep up with them walking, running, riding, swimming…
  • You can also pretend to lose in board games / card games and your ego stays intact!
  • The quick recovery from a meltdown….the warm smiles quickly afterwards…
  • The ability to pick up a small child and take them with you even if they are reluctant to come!!
  • The ability to use a hug to calm you and calm them….
  • The look that says you are the best Mum in the world….no doubt about it!
  • The ability to keep them in your care….safe and well and to choose what you want to do for holidays!
  • The ability to schedule your weekend to suit you and your schedule…

Of course having little kids isn’t all rosy either – I am amazed even though it isn’t long ago that when I get all nostalgic for the younger years I only remember the rosy moments….I forget the sleepless nights, 5 am starts, the multiple tantrums on any given day, the constant monitoring for safety and never finishing a sentence let alone a conversation, the inability to find 5 minutes to myself, the constant teaching of a rule (e.g. don’t throw food) and the constant meltdown as the food was thrown…

It was thinking nostalgically about when my kids were little that made me realise at some point in the future I will think back nostalgically to when my kids were teenagers – a reminder to appreciate what is here and now….and to realise that the tough stuff comes with the good stuff…..and it’s the good stuff I want to acknowledge as it is happening and remember it!!

As Tim Urban said ‘the joy you find on 100’s of forgettable Wednesdays’ – is the joy that counts!  This is what leads us to feel we are living  a happy life – it’s the simple small daily events that often we take for granted until they are no longer there… Brene Brown talks of families who have experienced trauma and she siad it is always the little everyday moments that they miss most and feel most grateful for?

So I’m wondering what is it about parenting your kids right now, at their age & stage that you love and appreciate? 🙂  Can writing a list like the one above help you to feel more grateful for those everyday ‘forgettable’ moments that add up to living a happy life?

 

Daily Practice For Change To Happen…

How do we keep going with developing new life patterns and new ways of thinking…..when the old ways and old patterns just keep drawing us in?

Feel the Fear book photo

It’s been very comforting to read Louise Hay, Heal Your Life & Susan Jeffers, Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway who both strongly recommending daily practice for change…and the need to be gently persistent and very kind with ourselves as we bring change into our life…it’s not a quick overnight process.

I find that it’s very easy for me to drift back into negative thinking/emotions or old patterns and ways of being – it is hard to undo a lifetime’s worth of patterning!!  I actually believe it is human nature to focus on the negative…it’s how we have survived – focussing on what can go wrong or what might not be safe… So it takes time to navigate a new pathway in our brain, just like learning how to drive a car or play guitar…but with much more practice!!
I have a list of strategies that work for me – but not all the time – and for me it is a daily practice to move towards the life I want to live, to be the person I want to be, while still finding a way to be gentle and compassionate with myself -and accepting what happens in life and accepting I am human – and learning many life lessons as I go…
I think life will always throw us some curve balls – it’s just that we can change the way we react to them, we can change who we are in the moment…with lots of practice…
I’ve been practicing since 2011 and I’m still practicing!!  My daily/weekly list has grown as I’ve read books, done workshops, been in coaching sessions and completed the Artist Way…it has been a process of gathering what works for me….
Here’s my list:
  • Meditate twice a day (5-10 minutes – longer is great but not always easy)
  • Journal stream of consciousness – and add to that prayers / affirmations & what I am grateful for
  • Affirmations in the Mirror (when I remember)
  • Mindfulness – reminders to breathe, to pause, to take in the present moment, engage my senses
  • Walking in nature
  • Swim / Dance / Yoga
  • Creating /playing with colour- and adding in my affirmations
  • Connect with a good friend
  • Hugs with those I love
  • Have a mantra / affirmation that helps me in the hard times ‘I am OK, this time will pass, I am nurturing myself, I am willing to change’- I find the affirmation needs to ring true for me in the moment..
  • Choose to focus on what I am grateful for rather than worrying…
  • Imagine sending the person/thing I am worrying about a colour rather than worried thoughts
  • Forgiveness prayer- ‘I forgive you, I forgive me, I set you free, I only send you love and light, it is done, it is done, it is done
  • Loving Kindness prayer – ‘I wish you well, may you be safe & protected, may you be at ease & in good health, may you be kind loving and peaceful to yourself and to others
  • Read an inspiring gentle book like Louise Hay Heal Your Life
  • Potter outside in the garden
  • Imagine protecting myself with a colour / energy
  • Oracle cards
  • Book in for a counselling / coaching / healing session
But most importantly sometimes I just need to validate my emotions, validate that I’m not feeling great that day – and do some self-care so I begin to feel a little better…& sometimes I just need to start again tomorrow…sleep is great for resetting the brain!
So I’m really curious about what you use to stay on track…to lay down new patterns and new ways of thinking and new ways of approaching your life?  What works for you?  And is there a new practice that you can add to your day?  Nothing to big or tiresome – just something small that helps you to feel more positive or more present?
Susan Jeffers talks about a plane when on auto-pilot, is constantly auto-correcting it’s flight path, constantly going off track and then correcting itself.  She mentions how life is like that – constantly going off-course – and then we need to correct ourselves, over and over again – I found that comforting – and I guess that’s why it’s great to set up a daily practice…..
But if this is new to you – just start something small and achievable – with great flexibility and kindness so it becomes a rewarding part of your life – not a punishing activity to fit into your day….and slowly build – that’s what has worked for me…  Slowly over time noticing which daily activities feed my soul rather than those that drain it or numb it and then being able to choose those nourishing practices…and constantly, gently, auto-correcting!

Understanding meltdowns and how we can calm ourselves & our kids down…

 

For me understanding how our brain processes emotions, the triggers for the fight, flight or freeze responses in myself and in my kids has transformed my life!  I have also seen it transform many parents lives in coaching or in workshops as they understand that their child’s emotional brain is still developing and the ability to put the ‘brakes’ on is not yet mature.

Once we understand how the brain works – (in video above with this model of the Brain In the Hand by Dan Siegel) then we can begin to understand our own emotions and understand our child’s emotions.  What is the first sign for you that you are getting annoyed / irritated?  What is the first sign in your child?  What about for nervousness and excitement?  The Emotional Thermometer (in video below) is one of the best tools for developing awareness and understanding of emotions – a very important part of emotional intelligence.

Once we have this understanding and our kids have this understanding then we can begin to learn some mindful calming strategies – from simple 10 second activities to longer 5-10 minute activities suitable for young and old!

If you would like to learn more on the emotions and on calming strategies check out the NEW Understanding Emotions Online Course with short videos that you can access in your own time at your own pace and begin learning the skills needed to teach yourself and your children how to regulate emotions.

Which tool would be helpful in your house – the Flipping The Lid Brain in the hand model or the Emotional Thermometer?

The reality of school mornings (sigh!) and the need to breathe…

I’m wondering what mornings are like at your house? Yesterday was an absolute classic – with my twins (and me!) getting used to a new bus routine and earlier start time…for high-school.  With lots of opportunities to practice (sometimes without success!) mindful breathing!

breathe-stressed-mum

 

I began by meditating on my balcony, calming my mind and preparing myself for a peaceful Monday morning… (I can do this now my kids are older!)

I walk back into the house to find two kids still fast asleep despite the bus leaving in 40 minutes…
I wake them gently, calmly, glad I meditated..
I make 4 sandwiches virtuously – this is unusual for me as normally the kids help themselves to the lunch ingredients so less food is wasted…
So far so good,

Phil leaves early for work and all is well…
Someone yells there is no hot water – thank goodness it is a hot day and I make a mental note to get that fixed, but not to worry about it now, or even this week!

Kids groan and complain that there is no cereal despite there being 4 open boxes of different varieties on the bench – turns out that even though they went to Coles with their Dad on the weekend no one bought the cereal they like?

I breathe and begin to braid my daughters hair, a special request

Then youngest son takes too long in the shower, eldest son grumpy and yelling, youngest son calls out for a towel, no-one helps, I yell ‘you’ll have to get your own towel’ but in his wisdom he hops back into shower!

Eldest son gets louder and grumpier, and thumps on bathroom door!

I knock on door and shout loudly about 2 more people needing to still have a shower, the need to save water etc – and the door opens – he has found a towel in the bathroom (there all along!) and is now getting out…I loudly suggest please never have two showers in a row again!!!
I breathe but teeth gritted, calmness is evapourating…
I remember I’m out of my toasted muesli and unwisely I begin making this…
Then remember orthodontist appt for two children at lunch time and search frantically for paper and pen to write school notes and realise I will have to reorganise my whole entire day to fit this appt in… and cancel yoga 😦

I breathe…

Then I find youngest son, sitting in wet towel at the computer with 7 minutes to go until the bus leaves….I am no longer calm, I deliver an exploding lecture, I unplug computer in a rage…

And then I remember to breathe…

Two kids leave in good time to catch the bus, but I remember I haven’t said goodbye to one so shout out ‘fond’ farewell from front door that neighbours could hear!! And send a virtual hug!
Youngest son comes upstairs breathless, seemingly dressed, we hug, he thanks me for lunch, all is forgiven, I hug him tight and wish him well.
He races up to the bus…fingers crossed he’ll catch it.

I realise I have overcooked the muesli but it’s saved in the nick of time, thank goodness
Eldest son leaves on his bike, showered and peaceful, again thank goodness.

I breathe…
And I turn to face a tsunami of lunch / brekky stuff left out on the bench, discover the bathroom has been flooded from the earlier shenannigans and clothes are left everywhere…

and it’s only 8:08am!!!

I sigh, I breathe, I feel like going back to bed or at least meditating again to regain some of that calm but instead the day begins and I breathe and breathe and breathe as I regain some order both inside and out…

Phew!!

Anyone else have something similar happen at the start of the school or preschool year??

The need to re-treat ourselves…

rotto-3

One thing I am always amazed by is that when I go on holidays I become suddenly so much more aware of just how stressed I am – my body tense, my mind on hyper-alert, my heart all armoured up.  And it is only as the holiday progresses that time slows down, my body unwinds, my thinking slows and becomes more in the present moment and my heart becomes open with love and softness to what is happening here and now.

I was fortunate enough to have 10 days on Rottnest Island, WA this January, camping, riding, snorkelling, creating and reading with my family….no power, no cars, no outside world intrusions….and it really felt like a retreat.

rotto-1

At the start I was worried about would we have enough to do??  By the end, of the 10 days, I didn’t want the holiday to finish and we still had so much to gently explore!!  Funny how fast paced our world can be that we can’t imagine slowing life down so much that all we need to think about is what to eat and which beach to visit and that fills the day beautifully!

This got me thinking about the idea that a retreat is really an opportunity to re-treat ourselves.   It is so much easier to be mindful on a retreat….to really be aware of our thinking, our stress levels and what we really need.  On a retreat it is easier to listen to our intuition, to feel deep gratitude and to feel at one with the world….although it can take a little while to settle our thinking, worrying, planning minds and process all that we have stored up in our bodies since the last retreat!

rotto-2

So my intention this year is to attend 3 whole day retreats, to book in for a week long retreat and to plan some more holiday retreats for my family…knowing just how important it is.  Now is the time to book them in before the year gets too busy or I forget just how important they are to me.

So what are you going to do to re-treat yourself this year?  What can you book in?